Recipients of the 2020 SFSS Women of the Year Awards announced

The winners reflect on their accomplishments over the past year and the positive contributions they have made to their faculties.

YWiB SFU’s International Women’s Day Gala 2019. Photo via Facebook courtesy of the Simon Fraser Student Society

Written by: Madeleine Chan, Staff Writer

The eight winners of the 2020 SFSS Women of the Year award, from each of SFU’s faculties, were announced earlier in March via social media. 

The awards would have been presented at the International Women’s Day Gala, organized by Young Women in Business (YWiB) SFU; however, the event was cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Peak has reached out to the winners to discuss their accomplishments over the past year and their reactions to receiving the award. 

According to the SFSS, these awards “honour self-identified women who set the bar high and drive positive change in their faculties.” The candidates were first chosen by an independent selection committee, and then the finalists were voted on by SFU students through a web survey. The recipients are as follows: Izyl Canonicato, Jessica Dela Cruz, Peyton Winslade, Marium Zaki, Tara Trang, Camelia Tavakoli, Aleisha Fernandes, and Eva Ang. 

Camelia Tavakoli from the Faculty of Environment, along with being proud of becoming a more “powerful person” over the past year, has contributed to her department through research on public health and the environment. On winning the award she said: “I think more than anyone, I proved to myself that despite all the difficulties, I made it! I [would] like to dedicate this award to all the women who are doing their best in life. Ladies! Keep your chin up, and SHAKE IT OFF!”

Eva Ang from the Faculty of Science has earned multiple awards for her contributions to the SFU and BPK community. This year she took on the role of Assistant Director for the BPK Peer Mentorship program. On receiving the Women of the Year Award she commented, “As a young girl, I never would have thought I would be able to accomplish such [a] milestone [ . . . ] I feel humbled and honoured to have won this award, but I could not have done it without the support and care from my family, peers, and SFU community — thanks for inspiring me everyday!”

Alongside finishing her degree this Spring, Peyton Winslade from the Faculty of Business was a teaching assistant for BUS 361 which “runs as a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society.” She wrote to The Peak, “I am extremely lucky to have met and learned from many intelligent, badass, and authentic women at SFU [ . . . ] I am flattered to have been nominated and selected alongside other passionate and accomplished women from across our campus.”

Marium Zaki from the Faculty of Communication, Art, and Technology is proud of recently landing her “dream job” as a wedding planner with a top wedding planning company. “I am truly honoured to be winning this award. I come from a country where minority rights are nonexistent and I have spent my life doing social work for women, LGBT groups, etc. I just want to raise awareness for the issues minority groups tend to face every single day and how we can all help even a little bit in order to make this world equal for everyone.”

Jessica Dela Cruz from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) noted that the accomplishment she is most proud of this year was getting to be FASS’s Engagement Programming Assistant (EPA). Through this role, she has helped to plan events such as Clubs Days, Welcome Day, and FASS On a Boat. On receiving the award she said, “It has represented my growth in the past two years as an SFU student [ . . . ] to have my efforts recognized and appreciated [ . . . ] makes me passionate to continue to do more and do better.”

Aleisha Fernandes from the Faculty of Health Sciences is proud of completing all of her courses and her third co-op term. She has been a part of the Faculty of Health Sciences Peer Mentorship Program for four years, and has also worked on a number of initiatives with SFU Health and Counselling. On winning the award she commented, “I want to thank everyone for taking the effort to nominate some pretty amazing women [ . . . ] shoutout to all of the inspirational people in my life that have pushed me to keep pushing my limits.”

Izyl Canonicato from the Faculty of Applied Sciences did not respond in time for publication. Tara Trang from the Faculty of Education declined to respond.